- Posted January 23, 2013 by
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Women in combat: Your take
Supportive Combat Role vs Combat Role: We Females Are Already on the Front Line
- sarahbrowngb, CNN iReport producer
I just completed my first deployment to Afghanistan this past year. I worked as the public affairs non-commissioned officer in charge for an infantry brigade combat team as well as an ad hoc advisor for a security force assistance team that worked with the Afghan Border Police. I completed more than 70 missions in six months and, on a few of those missions, I was the only female. Technically, I had a supportive combat role and the infantryman walking next to me had a combat role, but I don't think the enemy would really know the difference if he decided to shoot.
Do I feel that women should be allowed to be in combat roles? There is a complicated answer to that. I believe in gender equality in the workplace but I also understand that there are physical and mental differences between men and women.
As for equality, I think there will be a small group of military females who will look at Mr. Panetta's decision as an opportunity to prove themselves in some feminist-based retort to the past 19 years of being told to stay out of combat roles. I have worked with some female service members that do possess the mental attitude and the physical strength and endurance to do exactly what their male counterparts are capable of and I believe these women will thrive in the newly-opened combat roles.
The concept of letting females in combat roles is more than an equality issue though. Most of us are not physically built to carry heavy weapons. Where men lack in abdominal muscles, women lack in upper body strength. This is reflected in our physical fitness test requirements. For example, men are required to do more push-ups and women are expected do more sit-ups. Very few women I know can do pull-ups. We just aren't built for it. That doesn't mean that every woman can't do them... just the odds are against us. Our military scoring systems for fitness are two different scales - one set for men and one set for women - because we are built differently.
Women are already in support roles in combat and we are already on the front lines. We just haven't trained in some of the specific Military Occupational Specialities (MOS) that allow us to say we are in a combat role. We are already in a danger area whether we are in a combat role or a supportive combat role.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author
and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, DOD, or the U.S. Government.